Thursday 14 April: Lent 2011

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You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the good of God and of neighbour be in these feet’

Matthew 10

1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

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5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

It is often the moving and going of our brothers and sisters that we celebrate as signs of great faith. ‘What faith,’ we say.

However, it is often in the not going; the staying and persisting that faith most strongly proves its mettle. God has given us feet to go and feet to stay. Often it will be the good of God and of neighbour that will call us not to leave but to stay.

Jesus tells his apostolic band to stay with any people who will welcome them, and to remain eating and drinking with them, serving their needs and teaching the Gospel.

It is in their nature that pioneers are always wanting to start things. However, going and beginning is the easy part. The pioneer must also stay a while in order to lay a solid foundation for his or her work. Building Christian community, relationally, generally means investing in a very few people at a time. To persist with a few takes time and a good deal of faith – especially in those inevitable moments when immaturity surfaces.

Such work requires a faith ready to bear with frustrations before fruit and disappointments before reward.

We can all be tempted – whether by the excitement of the new, or boredom with the old, or the simple dread of the day-to-day duties of life and faith – towards a rhythm of life that runs too swiftly from one activity to another, or from one physical or social environment to the next. That is why it is most especially at those times when our feet are itchy that we need to pray that our moving and our staying will always be determined by a self-less motivation, in other words that ‘the good of God and of neighbour’ may guide our feet.